When it comes to your car insurance, it's best to do your homework. Whether you are just looking to switch carriers or you are a new driver, do the legwork. Make sure you are getting good coverage and reasonable rates. Don't go into this thinking it will take all day, though. Comparing car insurance quotes is easier than ever these days. You can get your comparison in minutes on your computer or smartphone. Before you contact an agent, though, get your ducks in a row so that the call will go as smoothly as possible. Figure out what you need to look for, ask about and be prepared for before you make the call.
Relevant Information to Have
Before you call an insurance agent, you'll want to have certain pieces of information handy in case you decide to go ahead with the purchase. Have your driver's license handy. They will require your driver's license number. The agent will also want the make, model, year and VIN of your vehicle. The VIN or Vehicle Identification Number can be found on the car title and registration.
Have your checkbook or debit/credit card out. An insurance agent will probably want a payment up front. Some insurance companies can just use your checking account number, routing number and check number to put the payment through electronically. That way, you technically pay with a check without the delay of putting a check in the mail. If not, however, you may want to use your debit/credit card to make the payment. If you can't make the payment over the phone, your coverage may be delayed until the company receives your check or possibly even until the check clears.
If you have a loan on your vehicle, have your loan paperwork handy. The insurance agent will need the bank, loan number and contact information for the bank.
Have your housemate's, partner's or spouse's pertinent information on hand, too. If you don't have it, the insurance agent will probably just let you call back with it but, it is easier if you have it on hand.
What Kinds of Questions to Ask
When you call an agent about a car insurance policy, ask about the deductible. It is one of the biggest factors in determining your monthly payments or premiums. The higher the deductible, the lower your premium. Your agent will explain your options and let you decide. If you are good at keeping a bit of money in a bank account for a rainy day, you might want to go with the higher deductible and lower premiums. This option leaves the money in your bank account until you need it. If you know you are not so good at leaving a chunk of money in your bank account, you might want to go with the lower deductible.
If you have a housemate, partner or spouse, find out if they are covered under your policy if they need to drive your vehicle from time to time. Most insurance companies will require pertinent information about anyone of legal driving age who lives with you, regardless of whether or not they ever plan to use your car. They know how it is when you live with someone of driving age. Chances are, your car will be the last one in the driveway at some point when your housemate has to make a quick trip to the store.
If you have kids who are fast approaching driving age, find out if they will be covered while driving with you. They will be required to drive a certain number of hours with a licensed adult before they get their license. Also, ask what you need to do to get them covered when they get their license.
Check into the various types of car insurance available to you so you can be sure you're getting what you need. Liability coverage is the minimum. You can get away with just liability as long as you don't have a loan on your vehicle. This type of coverage will only cover damage done to the other vehicle. It won't pay for the repairs on your car. If you have an auto loan, you will have to get full coverage or liability plus collision. This type of insurance covers damage done to your vehicle and the other vehicle if you are at fault.
Ask if the policy will cover damage caused by a hailstorm or fallen tree limb or if you have to add comprehensive coverage. That's the type of coverage that covers damage from something other than an actual car accident.
Find out if personal injury coverage is included and how much the insurance company will pay. Will they pay all of the medical bills or only up to a certain amount? Is there a different deductible for medical bills?
Ask if you can take your vehicle wherever you want for repairs or if you are limited to pre-approved repair shops. Find out if you have to get estimates from more than one shop then let the insurance company decide where your car will be repaired. You should also ask if they pay the repair shop directly or expect you to pay for the repairs then reimburse you, too. They should work directly with the repair shop.
Find out if the insurance company will provide a rental car if your vehicle has to be in the shop for a while or if it is stolen. They may provide a car from a pre-approved car rental company or let you get one from wherever you like. The insurance company may also pay for the car directly or reimburse you.
Where to Get Comparisons
There are websites you can go to, like QuoteWizard, where you can get a comparison with 4 or more quotes. Some insurance companies, like Progressive, will pull car insurance quotes from other companies for you, too.
Don't stop there, though. Do a little further research, especially if you are considering going with a slightly less well-known company. Check out websites that give you access to insurance company reviews so that you can get the low-down before you decide. Consumer Affairs, for example, provides information on various insurance companies and you can get quotes there, too. Just enter your information and click on "Get Personalized Results" next to the company you want a quote from.
What to Look for
Look for reliability and experience in your new car insurance company. When you go comparison shopping, check with the "biggies" like Allstate, Geico, State Farm and Progressive first. They are the biggies for a good reason. An insurance company isn't going to be that successful unless they are reliable.
Don't stop there, though. Go the extra "mile" and explore some of the less well-known companies, too. Just because they don't invest as much in marketing doesn't mean they aren't as good. Nationwide, for example, has been around for almost 100 years but they don't advertise as much as companies like Progressive and Geico. AAA, Liberty Mutual, and The Hartford are also well worth looking into.
If you are a veteran or are in the military, look into insurance companies that excel in this area. USAA, for example, prides itself on meeting the insurance needs of veterans, military personnel, and their families.